At dinner recently, my friend overheard our waitress tell another table that she was a law student. When the waitress came back to our table, we told her we were lawyers and asked her about law school. She is a 2L at a local school. I asked what kind of law she wants to practice, and she replied “something that will pay.”

Throwing Away Opportunity

For all that law student knew, I worked for a firm currently looking for summer associates. Or I owned a company that needs in-house counsel. But with her flippant response, I have no interest in recommending her to anyone. And why would I? If someone asks me if I know anyone looking for a job doing civil litigation, personal injury, or oil and gas work, I know that person is looking for someone with a specific interest. If a hiring attorney just wanted some J.D. off the street, they could post on Craigslist.

I am always happy to talk with a law student. If, for some reason, they want my advice, I’m happy to give it. Even if they just want to talk about the practice of law in general, I’m game. If someone has drive and I can recommend them to a potential employer, that’s great. By not showing any kind of drive or interest, this particular law student missed out on a potential hiring opportunity down the line, and she didn’t even know it.

Caught in a Lie

I understand that some people go to law school and don’t know what kind of law they want to practice. I believe even “I’m not sure” or “I haven’t decided yet” is a better response than “something that will pay.” As it turned out, this particular law student was interested in in-house work. Unfortunately, it took two or three questions to find that out. Her original flip response wasn’t even true. Had she come right out and said that, I would have recommended a company I know of that is hiring for those positions.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/san_drino/1454922072/)